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You can explore the Long Island Game Farm for the first time this winter 

Joseph Sun, 3, of Center Moriches, feeds the

Joseph Sun, 3, of Center Moriches, feeds the deer at Long Island Game Farm. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

For the first time in its more than 50-year existence, the Long Island Game Farm in Manorville plans to stay open on weekends through winter. It will offer a scaled-down experience for discounted admission beginning this month on weekends when weather permits.

Visitors will be able to enter the deer park and interact with and feed the more than two dozen deer. "They’ll eat out of your hand," says director Melinda Novak. Visitors will also be able to get close to the goats. "You can pet them, hug them," Novak sayos. "We also sell milk bottles if you want to give them a treat." Grain or milk to feed the animals is for sale for $7 each in the gift shop; for $12.95 it comes in a souvenir zookeeper bucket.

"In the winter the kids don't have that much activity, most of it is indoors," says Wei Liu, 26, of Center Moriches, of the Game Farm staying open. Liu, who works in customer service, likes to visit with her two children, Daisy Sun, 1, and Joseph Sun, 3.

The game farm will give them the chance to get fresh air, Liu says. And she likes that unlike a big zoo, where the kids can only look at the animals, the game farm lets them have close contact with them. Her kids especially like interacting with the goats, she says.

ADDED SPECIAL EVENTS

The alpacas, sheep, Zephyr and Thor the zebras, emu, ring-tailed lemurs, wallabies, bison, peacocks, red foxes, African Serval, rescue donkeys, black and white ruffed lemurs and chickens will also be on hand. On weekends in November and December, admission will include an optional "walk with the wallabies" led by a zookeeper inside the wallabies' enclosure from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

"We're encouraging folks to take their holiday selfies for social media and cards," Novak says.

The Wild Play area will be open. "We took all these natural tree stumps and logs and made an area for kids to play on," Novack says.

On Nov. 27 and 28, at noon, the farm will we offer a Holiday Barnyard Show with admission, with sing along and an introduction to some of the animals in the nursery. There'll be free hot chocolate all that weekend.

VIP tours, which must be booked in advance through the website, will also be offered all winter. Groups of four people will have a one-hour private tour for $300, with each extra person $75. They’ll be able to go behind some of the boundary fences that contain the animals to take photos and feed the zebras and walk with the three wallabies.

"We think it will be interesting for folks to see the animals in winter," Novak says. "For example, the red foxes … grow thick, beautiful fur coats in winter."

GIRAFFE GOES TO FLORIDA

Some of the regular animals won’t be around; due to not having enough heated barns, Bobo the giraffe, the gibbons and the camels won’t be on site. They travel to Florida for the winter. The parrots and tortoises will be off-site as well, Novak says. And the indoor discovery center is closed for renovations, she says.

However, the farm will have some pop-up animal encounters; watch on social media or sign up for the game farm newsletter, Novak says. "We can’t rely on summer season only. Taking care of animals is expensive," Novak says of the experiment of opening the game farm over the winter.

Chauncey Nartey, 36, of Southampton, visited for the first time with his daughter, Amelia, 2, on the first weekend in November. Nartey, who is a global head of diversity and inclusion, says his daughter was at first hesitant to feed the sheep from her hand, but once she started she loved it so much she couldn't stop.

"It's awesome that there is an experience like that available," Nartey says. "We'll definitely be back many more times."

Game Farm Winter Experience

WHEN | WHERE 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at the Long Island Game Farm, 489 Chapman Blvd., Manorville; check the farm's Facebook or Instagram account to make sure weather hasn't closed the park.

COST $18.75 per adult, $14.25 per child 3 through 12, $16.45 ages 62 and older

INFO 631-878-6644; longislandgamefarm.com

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